Self-catering holiday accommodation around Southend-on-Sea, Essex
Southend-on-Sea in Essex has long been a favourite seaside resort for people from the east side of London. Trains from London Liverpool Street run directly to Southend Victoria. It's a resort where the attractions of old merge happily with the new; a survivor among resorts. The long wooden pier out into the sea is still the longest in the world. Part of it burnt down, but has now been replaced with an improved version. The miniature railway still runs along it, ferrying tourists who prefer not to walk the one and a quarter miles of its length. But if you don't mind walking, signs at regular intervals mark your progress, and you will be rewarded with sea views, birds, and the occasional bench for a rest. There's an RNLI lifeboat station and visitor centre at the very end of the pier, with an exhibition about the work of the lifeboat and a small shop for souvenirs. The usual cafes and restaurants are also there for refreshments before your return.
One useful addition to the sea front are the information boards illustrating the birds that you may spot as you walk; and there are plenty of them searching for food in the shallow waters. Southend-on-Sea was recently awarded three blue flags for clean beaches and although only sandy in parts, the mud flats have entranced generations of children. There is nothing so memorable as the squelch of the mud about your ankles as you cross the mud flats in search of distant water when the tide is out.
The swathes of concrete and promenade are still there along the sea front, and the extensive family amusement parks , including all the modern day electronic nightmares of wall-to-wall slot machines, video games and electronic bingo. Children always make a beeline for the fairground rides at Adventure Island. A wrist band and tickets system is available for the rides. Adults ride free when accompanying toddlers.
The local council has always been good in putting on a show, and if you visit during the summer you can expect firework displays in the evenings and bright lights along the sea front. There are also various other events like aerobatic aircraft displays.
Traditional fish and chips, cockles, eels and other sea food can still be purchased all along the sea front. There are plenty of pubs, clubs, a casino, sea-life centre and much more to continue to attract a steady stream of visitors to Southend.
Parking can be difficult. There are quite a few 'pay and display' car parks but these tend to become full early on when the weather is warm. If you enjoy a short walk, you may find it easier to park away from the main amusements along the sea front or in side streets but do remember that it's always harder returning to your car, exhausted at the end of the day, laden with bags, children and their beach toys.
Cliff's Pavilion in Westcliff, a mile or so west of Southend, is a superb theatre with excellent shows throughout the year, and if you enjoy a good walk, it's possible to walk all the way from Southend to Leigh-on-Sea and Old Leigh. Here you will find a street lined with pubs and cafes overlooking the boats at the water front. A folk festival is held annually in Old Leigh at the end of June. A wide range of music and dance groups perform for free in any available spaces outdoors. There are Morris dancers galore, complete with maypoles, exotic belly dancers, Spanish flamenco, circle dancers and much more; all very colourful and entertaining.
The town of Southend is vast and sprawling, with an increasingly multi-ethnic population, as large as that of many cities. There is a good shopping centre, a small airport, and two railway stations with direct train services to London; Southend Victoria and Southend Central. The two major roads out of the town towards London are the A127 and A13.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council sometimes distribute voucher booklets containing money-off vouchers for various attractions in Southend, ranging from 10% off of a meal to discounts on bowling and the open top bus tour. These can be collected at tourist information centres and railway stations.
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